After sitting through an impromptu bye week that came courtesy of a Northeast Kansas City forfeit Oct. 26, Maryville football will host Chillicothe Nov. 2.
Maryville (9-1) did not expect a week off in late October as the Class 3 District 8 tournament began. Instead of suiting up and playing football Friday night, the Spoofhounds stayed home for the first time in more than two months, waiting to see what opponent lied ahead.
The forfeiture was not a welcomed occurrence for Maryville: its players and coaches are creatures of habit, used to playing football once a week for the duration of the fall. In short, the Spoofhounds wanted to play.
“When you don’t play football during the season and you’re expecting to, you miss it,” coach Matt Webb said. “You miss being around your teammates on the field, you miss what your craft is; you miss those Friday night lights.”
In some ways, the forfeiture provides increased anticipation for Maryville’s second round matchup. Chillicothe (4-6) defeated Benton for the second time in as many weeks in the first round of the district tournament Oct. 26, beating the Cardinals 41-20 to advance to Maryville.
“We’re excited to play Chillicothe,” Webb said. “(It’s) the second round of the playoffs against a good opponent. What we benefited from the off week is we became a little bit closer as a team. We’re excited to play the next round of football.”
In the two teams’ previous meeting this season, Maryville moved past the Hornets in a commanding 47-0 shutout victory Sept. 7. At the end of the Week 3 matchup, Chillicothe had yet to score a point on the season and looked to be one of the worst teams in the MEC.
Over the last seven weeks, things have changed. After starting the season with six losses in their first seven games, the Hornets rattled off three-consecutive wins to keep their season alive.
“That was a long time ago,” Webb said of the Week 3 matchup. “Chillicothe, at that time, they were breaking in their new coaching staff and a lot of new coaching philosophies with their option attack, and they really hadn’t picked up the rhythm of that and the nuances of their offense, but they are now. They fully know their system.”
A season ago, Maryville fell to the Hornets 24-0 in Week 3 of the regular season, though the Spoofhounds found redemption in the form of a playoff victory over Chillicothe Nov. 3 en route to the Class 3 state title. Webb knows that the Hornets will look to flip the script this year.
“They’re playing really well,” Webb said. “They’ve given everybody fits throughout the conference season. They’re going to be ready to play and have a little redemption from last year.”
Both teams are in a vastly different form than they were a year ago, or even seven weeks ago. Since that 2017 Week 3 loss to the Hornets, Maryville has been dominant, going 20-2 over the course of two seasons, including playoffs.
Despite this run of dominance, Maryville will take the Hornets seriously, as they do every opponent. There are no guaranteed victories in the Midland Empire Conference.
“We’ve just got to practice day-by-day and get everything right,” senior lineman Tallon Noland said ahead of the Week 3 matchup with Chillicothe in September. “(We have) to watch film and know what we’re doing.”
Maryville will have the comfort of home-field advantage in the second-round matchup, a luxury it did not experience during last year’s state run. After Northeast’s forfeiture, the Spoofhounds have won 58-consecutive games at home.
Maryville will lean on the advantage with its season on the line Friday versus Chillicothe. With postseason play comes unpredictability, and any form of comfort and edge could be vital in advancing.
“The ‘Hound Pound is like a 12th man for us,” Webb said. “Our crowd and community support is something we thrive on. This is playoff football. They’re going to do everything they can to win the football game and advance just like we will.”